Are Your Buyers Asking WTF?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sellers often have a distorted view of what is really important to buyers, leaving buyers to repeatedly ask WTF? Get your mind out of the gutter, the question is Why That Feature? Not what you’d be asking when the deal goes sideways, as it will if you are unable to nail the buyer’s WTF.

One thing that many executives and owners tell me regularly is that they are frustrated by some sales people’s inability to relate to the buyer’s perspective of things. As importantly, the incapability of sellers to have a fluid and malleable enough understanding of the products they sell to make it fit the buyer’s requirements, not just those of the selling organizations.

They feel that sellers come in and present features that may seem cool and useful to people in their own marketing group, or features someone in product development thought made sense. While some features may seem cool and useful to a developer, the same may not resonate with real world users. While secondary research may suggest a demand for a feature to the marketing group, it may not be top of mind for all buyers.

At times the disconnect is simply that buyers, especially executives are looking for specific outcomes, and don’t look at the product through functionality. One executive noted “I could care less how it does it, if it’s legal, and gets me what I want, that’s just fine!”

Sellers need to be able to relate aspects of the product to the buyer’s reality, and while there may be similarities in those realities, each buyer is just that different. Mat be it is only in terms of where they are in the buying cycle or as broad as market strategy. While everyone says that they are beyond feature/benefit in their sales approach, buyers tell me different. Sellers are still trying to bend the buyer to their feature, rather than highlighting how that feature gets the buyer to where they want to be.

Of course to do that, sellers need to be aware of what buyers are trying to achieve. And this is not more of something per minute, or faster processing, or social integration. It is more about something that starts with why, and ends with outcomes and impacts. The means are usually secondary.

Presentations where the seller filled with buzzwords still abound, as does communication from marketing. There is almost an expectation that the buyer will paint the same picture in response to single trigger word, as the seller or their marketing group did. Expecting buyers to come around to our view and our definitions just leads to more and harder work, a lot harder than changing the narrative to that of the buyer.

The same is true for unnecessary upgrades or changes in features that were working just fine. Change and new are not always better, especially if it change that was not driven by users/buyers. Users/paying customers don’t always see the same need for change as the developer. If it does not positively impact the buyer’s journey or ability to drive objectives, it is not a great feature or upgrade. These also lead buyer to ask Why That Feature, this not so much why do I need that (why do I wanna pay for that), but what was so bad about it that you had to change it.

Learn to speak with the buyer, not at the buyer, and avoid forcing them to ask WTF?

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

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You Can Play Nice or You Can Play To Win0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

iStock_000003854002Small

There are times when you hit a wall in a given sale or opportunity, where you have some though choices to make: do you walk away, do you take a different approach with the buyer, or do you abandon the person you have been working with and go around or over them.

As interesting as the choices that people make in these situations, what’s even more interesting and noteworthy from a learning standpoint, is why and how the make those choices.

Not a negative, but a reality is that many sales people positive nature and disposition, a ray of sunshine buyers will be drawn to, a “can do” attitude spiced with plenty of optimism. This drives them to look for positive outcomes, which is often different than the right or profitable outcome.

As an interesting side note, according to recent Harvard Business Review article by Steve W. Martin, What Separates the Strongest Salespeople from the Weakest, the best sales people as measured by performance, are in fact inwardly pessimistic. Questioning the buyer, motives, aspects of the sale, etc. This allows them to qualify/disqualify and be more effective sales winners (as opposed to the large group of relationship starved professional visitors who are in sales). While “possibilities” are endless, reality comes down to fewer choices, some harder than the others.

Of the choices above, abandon, change the facts or change horses, most sales people will be most reluctant to changing horses, going around or above the person they have been dealing with. Odd, because it is generally the most effective, both in terms of outcomes and best use of time.

It all hinges on how you view one fact, what are the potential consequences. The most optimistic relation types see negative consequences (now who is pessimistic), they say “If I go around or over them, it may upset the person I am dealing with, and the deal won’t happen”. The best, high performing sales people say “If I stay on the current path, the deal ain’t happening, I need to engage someone who can make it happen”.

One major difference is that the high performers look at it from the perspective of what’s right and best for the buyer and their company; they look at deal, not the people. Most importantly, they look at the situation as being “who else can I engage”, not necessarily going around or over someone. If that’s what you are looking for, that is what you’ll find.

At it’s core the question is a common one in sales, are you reactive or proactive, do you put more faith in hope or action?

It is not a question of the cup being half full or half empty. What differentiates these two types of sales people is that they both see the half glass, they both aspire to have the glass full. One is hoping that being genteel, nice and smiling will hopefully fill the glass. The other group knows they need to take proactive steps to fill the glass.

Tibor Shanto

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Crystal Balling 2015 – Sales eXecution 2790

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Magical Fortune Teller

Here we are at the height of the holiday season, a season filled with family gatherings, good cheer, forgotten poverty (please donate to the Salvation Army), and loony tune predictions and resolutions. And why not, what’s the risk when we live in an ADHD addled society that explores grand ideas 140 characters at a time; who will remember to check 12 months from now. I mean really, is anyone reviewing what they predicted last year, hell no, it is easier to double down and make new predictions.

Sales is right in there like a, a, a, “wanna go play outside?” Sure some are sticking with their predictions, because if you say it enough it may come true one century, and there will always be those lost souls who are so deathly afraid to pick up the phone to prospect who wish with all their hearts that this is the year that clod calling does die. Sorry Virginia, there ain’t no Santa Clause, and cold calling still works, deal with this, you can even “cold tweet”.

So what does 2015 hold for sales?

Apps for sales and sellers will continue to grow, as will the confusion around them. Meaning that the more of something there is, the more confusion that may result. The victim will be clarity, are we seeing the outcomes we see because of the improved economy, the apps we use, or improved execution. I suspect (ok predict) , that much of the uptick in results for many will be much more due to the economy, very little with improved execution, and even less with their feel good apps. According to a recent press release from Accenture titled: Mediocre Performance by a Majority of Sales Representatives Cost Companies 3.2 Percent in Potential Revenue, Accenture Research, shows, “Just 59 percent of sales representatives are expected to achieve his/her quota in 2014, down from 67 percent in 2013.” This despite the rise in “social selling” and related apps. At the same time “(72 percent) are raising their revenue target by 5 percent or more in the coming year, only 14 percent of chief sales officers (CSOs) are very confident that they can achieve increased revenue goals.” Something has to change, and it is execution, I’ve said it before, a fool with a tool is still a fool; more tools by and for more fools. Execution, everything else is just talk.

Data will continue to make its impact on quality selling, call it big data, actionable data, or a term Miles Austin recently introduced me to “fast data”. Call it what you like, data will help you make the decisions you need as a sales person to execute. About the only positive from the proliferation of apps is the data they provide. The key is how you action the data, better data with unchanged thinking does not drive improved execution or results.

One bold prediction, there will be an app that will take a traditional approach to client engagement, and deliver it in a way that will make it easy for everyone to consume follow and succeed, as long as they, you guessed it, they execute, because, yes, everything else is just talk.

Well that’s my crystal ball gazing, anything more would be foolish. As a stock broker friend of mine said when asked about predicting where a stock will go “If I had crystal balls, I’d make noise when I walk!”

Merry Christmas,
Tibor Shanto

To Shine or Not To Shine – Sales eXecution 2620

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Shoes

Vote in the poll at the end of the post!

Given that it is a holiday Monday, at least where I am, I thought I’d explore a lighter side of sales, but one worth pondering for a number of reasons. It comes down to how we present ourselves and how the buyer sees us, and it’s impact on their thinking and outcome of our efforts. I want to share with you two viewpoints, not sure where I land but interested in your views.

I know a couple of sales people, both guys, both top rate, as evidenced by their numbers and the quality of conversation when you meet them. They share a number of views on sales and their success, and they each have habits or in some cases rituals or superstitions that they rely on for their outstanding success. One point of key difference is shoes; yes I said shoes, we’re you expecting closing techniques?

One will call Mo, not because it’s his name, but we gotta call him something. Mo never wears new or clean shoes to an important sales call, especially what is commonly called a “closing meeting”. His view is that he does not want to upstage the buyer, his way of not wanting to appear to be better than the buyer, or flaunt his success. While he puts on a clean suit, freshly ironed shirt and the appropriate smart ties, there is never polish on his shoes. “I look professional, but that I still need your business.”

Bob (not his real name either), goes to the other extreme, what he does to his shoes before key meetings is nothing short of a ritual; in fact when you consider his closing ratio, it approaches being a religious experience. Bob buys all his “Power Shoes” at the same shop. “If you’re going to close business right, you have to look just so.”. Emphasis on the so. “I am asking these people to trust, to put their success, the fate of the project in my hands. To do that I have to look like the embodiment of success, someone they respect, look up to, would want be if they were selling. Part of that means they should be able to see themselves in my shoes when they look down just before they sign. The shine on my shoes is the final reassurance they need.”

Bob shines his shoes every weekend no matter what is in his pipeline. But the day before the close meeting, he goes into a higher mode. He pre cleans his shoes, then applies a specific polish, lets it sit for an hour, the using a special cloth r something he buffs and shines that thing till it looks like a mirror. He credits his days as a cadet for his prowess.

They are both exceptional sales people, they are both into the shoe thing, I am not sure what it has to do with their success.

What do you think: [yop_poll id=”2″]

Tell us about your sales rituals!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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